Suicide, Being Present, Hope & Hugs

i’ve been processing the stark reality of the suicides of three young men in less than 30 days in our community.  all three seemed to have so much to offer.  although i didn’t know any of these young men directly,  i do have friendships with many of their friends. if you’d look at their facebook profiles they don’t look any different from the students that hang out in my (our) student ministry. though there is uncertainty of what the reasons are for such a drastic act, the fact they there are gone has left a huge impact on so many.  like jonah’s video- what’s goin’ on?  there are many who are hurting and want to know someone is listening.  some rambling thoughts:

  • its amazing to me that in a day when we are so connected via the social media platforms, many are disconnected and even hurting and yet go unnoticed.
  • this school year i’m spending three days a week inside our local schools.  i’m amazed at the impact my presence has made.  last week i was late to a middle school during lunch.  as i entered the building the principal wanted me to know that the students had asked if i was coming.  the principal said that i had “arrived”…i.e. earned the right to be their friend.  i have no agenda during my school visit, but to be present (there’s that bike ride thing again).
  •  the conversations at the schools have turned to deeper things.  especially with the older boys.  a perplexity as they know of the deaths of these other young men.  they wonder/ponder  the proverbial “why”.
  • the teachers tell me many of the boys are missing healthy relationships with their dads.  in almost every conversation, even those that are casual, the weight of that truth becomes apparent.

i’ve been very intentional about talking about the deaths of these young men during our weekly big group time at EVO…wanting these teens story to be told…wanting to give some lasting presence to their short lives…to encourage our students to risk deeper friendships with each other.

following my friend from his rehab facility to the ER for some late night patchwork on a blown hematoma. i had stopped by for a short visit and ended up supporting him through an 8 hour ordeal.

this past week i also shared with our students the story of another young man who is a friend and a freshman at university and was hit by a car while crossing the street near campus. he was injured and is still in recovery some 3 weeks later. he developed compartment syndrome on his lower right leg and had a fasciotomy (basically he has open incisions on both sides of his right leg from his ankle to his knee.) he is in incredible pain. he will need skin grafts to close the wounds. it is painful, but with time, good meds and incredible support of family and friends he will get through. i used his story to remind that there is pain in life (physically and emotionally) but it can be overcome. we sometimes don’t know why the pain comes our way but we can move through it.

as we move into the Advent season we do so with the expectation and waiting for the coming of our Messiah and King. We all want and need Hope and Jesus is truly our only hope. I found it interesting this week as i participated as a member of the crisis response team for the most recent death, the number of students i know that approached me and wanted just a simple hug.

our culture is too fast paced and our human interactions…being present are too few.  so in these remaining days of Advent consider how you can be present and offer Hope.